The Florida Gators couldn’t get back to Florida Ballpark fast enough.
Losing three-straight games to the No. 14 Georgia Bulldogs was not how the team expected to spend their weekend, but that’s exactly what occurred.
Now, back in Gainesville, the Gators had an opportunity to take a breather before No. 2 Arkansas comes to visit this weekend.
In a lopsided 13-3 weekday affair, Florida (19-10, 3-6) dominated the Florida A&M Rattlers (12-18, 6-3) on the back of three perfect innings from starting pitcher Nick Pogue.
Pogue’s first two starts of the 2022 season got away from him early. The Melbourne, Florida, native lasted a combined 2.1 innings in his two starts against Seton Hall and Bethune-Cookman, allowing three hits, seven walks and two earned runs before being pulled.
After a clean one-two-three first inning, Pogue delivered his first K of the season, a swinging strikeout that ended the second frame in just seven pitches. He continued to deal in the third, adding two more strikeouts to his statline and keeping any Rattler from reaching first base.
The start to Pogue’s 2022 campaign left much to be desired, but the third time proved to be the charm. A perfect nine-up-nine-down night of work through three innings would end the year’s night before freshman Nick Ficarrotta took over.
“Working ahead against any hitter is gonna be a step in the right direction for me,” Pogue said. “I think this is a big night to work off of. If I pitch this weekend, I’m just gonna do the same thing: attack.”
For the bats, it would be hard to match the 17-run downpour the Gators placed on the Rattlers in their first meeting of the season back on March 2. Dropping two touchdowns and a field goal on Florida A&M again might have been too tall of a task, but the offense was still humming.
A one-out double from junior Jud Fabian opened the party, and he would get home on an RBI single from sophomore Wyatt Langford, his 30th RBI of the season.
Scoring resumed in the third, as two walks and a single would load the bases for sophomore Wyatt Langford. Instead of delivering another RBI, the Trenton, Florida, product advanced to first on the third walk of the inning.
The walk brought home the first run of the inning, and the proceeding wild pitch in the next at-bat would bring home the second. Junior BT Riopelle sent a sacrifice fly ball into deep right, giving sophomore Sterlin Thompson enough time to dart home from third.
In the final scoring play of the frame, sophomore Josh Rivera doubled into deep left center, bringing Langford home and upping the score to 5-0.
After a quick one-two-three frame from Ficarrotta, the bats got right back to business in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman Deric Fabian delivered a leadoff home run shot, his third time going yard this season.
Then, not to be outdone by his little brother, Jud sent a solo shot over the left field berm to Hull Road, pushing the score to 7-0.
“I said that in the game today, ‘Jud is gonna try to go up top because his little brother did,’” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.
Riopelle would blast his RBI total on the night to four with a three-run homer to the Gators bullpen, pushing the score to double-digits. Finally, an RBI single from Deric brought home Rivera from second, his second RBI at-bat of the inning.
“I feel like we just needed to have that game just to get the positive energy up and have the guys morale back up,” Deric said. “I think that’s what happened, and we just had a lot of fun,”
After four frames, Florida led 11-0.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Nesbitt took over for Ficarrotta in the sixth, who finished with one hit and one K through two innings. Nesbitt, on a pitch count like Pogue, would work just one inning. He made the most of it, though, delivering two strikeouts on three batters faced.
The Gators scoring itch returned in the sixth inning, first on an RBI double from sophomore Mac Guscette that plated junior Kris Armstrong. Then, Deric recorded his third RBI of the night on a sacrifice fly to deep center field; this brought Rivera home, extending the lead to 13-0.
Freshman Philip Abner’s name got called in the seventh inning, and would likewise also only throw for one inning. While he allowed one walk, the first of the night for Florida, he delivered a scoreless, hitless inning before passing the torch to sophomore Timmy Manning.
Manning, making his first appearance since a two-inning outing against LSU, allowed the first runs of the game. After a three-run inning for the Rattlers, Manning got back to the dugout, visibly frustrated with his performance.
He did not get a chance at redemption in the ninth; freshman Blake Purnell took over,
With the two-game season series with the Rattlers now in their rearview mirror, the Gators once again turn focus to SEC play. The Razorbacks might be the toughest team Florida has played yet, and the matchup comes at a time when uncertainty fills the orange-and-blue pitching staff.
Game one of the series is slated for Thursday, with first pitch coming at 6 p.m. The matchup will broadcast on the SEC Network.
Contact Carson Cashion at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CarsonCashion.
Carson Cashion is a third-year sports journalism major at UF, and the sports editor at The Alligator for the 2022 summer semester. A native of Altamonte Springs, Carson spends his free time walking his dog, Baxter, and listening to good music. He is an avid Tennessee sports fan, and eagerly awaits watching one of his teams win a championship for the first time.